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House of the Dragon Episode 4 review: Rhaenyra plays a game of thrones

The fourth episode titled King of the Narrow Sea is a misdirect, as its true focal point is the Princess Rhaenyra

3.5/5rating
House of the Dragon Episode 4 review: Rhaenyra plays a game of thrones
  • Ryan Gomez

Last Updated: 11.55 AM, Sep 14, 2022

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Story: The exiled Prince Daemon returns to the Red Keep after defeating the Crab Feeder and his army. His brother, the King, welcomes him with open arms. Daemon then takes Rhaenyra through the underbelly of the City of Kings Landing at night disguised as commoners to give her a new perspective on the city, its people, and about herself.

Review: House of the Dragon, despite its thoroughly fleshed-out characters, is yet to establish a truly likeable character. Each character despite several of their redeeming qualities is deeply flawed. It’s almost ironic that the only person, despite his flaws or incompetence, who truly has the best interests of the realm at heart is King Viserys. It is something that is unheard of in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire where a king puts the realm before his ambitions; apart from maybe the brief period when Jon Snow was named King in the North.

From Rhaenyra to Daemon, and Otto Hightower to Lord Corlys Velaryon, all of them have vested interests. The episode titled King of the Narrow Sea is Rhaenyra’s rite of passage in many ways. Her actions in this episode will likely have consequences that will have a ripple effect for years to come. It will be interesting how the relationship she has with Alicent, Ser Criston Cole, and Daemon will pan out. If it is anything similar to the books, the upcoming episodes will truly be explosive.

If the series continues to time-jump after each episode it could also be the last time Milly Alcock will essay the role of Rhaenyra, as Emma D'Arcy will play the older version of the Targaryen Princess. Alcock’s take on the character will surely be missed as she has captured the essence of her character with ease. The more experienced D'Arcy surprisingly has big shoes to fill. And the character, Rhaenyra, is reminded again of the prophecy about the ‘song of ice and fire’ by her father but it is unclear whether she has truly grasped its significance. Of course, the audience, especially those who have watched Game of Thrones, will know the importance of the Valyrian dagger and the ‘Prince that was promised’.

Unlike the preceding episode, there is no intense battle sequence, but the episode will keep one invested in the story as the politics of Westeros begin to unravel in true Game of Thrones fashion. The ending gives the impression that the politics within the Targaryen household has only truly begun. It’s also interesting to note that Daemon is responsible for Rhaenyra finally liberating herself from the shackles, despite the disturbing manner in which it was achieved. Daemon’s motives continue to be about grabbing power from his brother Viserys, whereas Viserys views these minor squabbles as distractions from the prophecy — distractions which are becoming problems which he is unable to solve.

Verdict: The Rhaenyra-centric episode is slow and methodical and it serves its purpose with aplomb as a foundation for things to come for the remainder of the season.

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